Incompetent AFCS

#1
I am looking for some advice on my current AFCS ongoing claim.

I injured by back re-supplying troops with ECM in Helmand as a CQMS in October 2010 and was discharged in Aug 2015, after 2 failed micro-discectomy's in my lower back and an L4/5 fusion.

After my first operation I was expected to make a full recovery and was awarded a Tier 12 payment of £10K from the AFCS. I was also expected to make a full recovery.

However, my condition deteriorated and I needed a second operation in 2013. My lower back was fused in Feb 2015 before I was medically discharged in the August. I have not been able to work since, yet as I was on the AFPS 1975, I qualified for my immediate pension which included a lump sum.

On discharge after almost 20 years I was given a tier 2 discharge; ‘for a breakdown in health which is not considered to leave you permanently incapable of gainful employment, although your employment prospects are deemed to be significantly impaired.’ However, my initial award was changed to an interim had as I was still ongoing treatment for the initial injury and I did NOT receive any further compensation from the AFCS on discharge.

Once discharged, my condition deteriorated and I damaged a further disc in my back in July 2016 (within 12 months) to which I informed the AFCS. Post discharge I had several spinal injections, physio appointments as well as visits to pain clinics and kept up my daily rehabilitation programme from Headly court. All of the above I promptly informed the AFCS as well as any other updated medical information.

In Jan 2017 they informed me that the original decision of the Tier 12 award of £10k was final. I appealed this and sent the AFCS a detailed account from my Army Medical records of all my injuries and medical appointments. I don't want to bore anyone but in a nut shell, its a fused spine, nerve damage in both legs causing weakness and numbness and a dropped foot. I struggle to walk and some days cannot get out of bed. I would appear that the AFCS did not even read my medical records before coming to this decision.

After 14 months I have just received confirmation that I am now going to a tribunal. In the letter, the justification is because I have no permanent significant functional limitations, despite receiving PIP and having a blue badge. Within my recent letter they don't acknowledge that I have a fused spine, incorrectly referred to the cause of my injury as 'lifting weights' and regarded myself being fit and active as a result of going to the gym to do my rehab.

I am at my limits with their incompetence, yet I still remain resilient and determined to seek justice for my injury as despite having a pension, this was acquired through service, thus earned.

I have 3 questions:

  • How long will until the tribunal?
  • Is it worth paying for a solicitor?
  • Does the Tier 2 only apply to the AFPS 05 as it categorises a tariff range of (7-11).

Thank you.
 
#2
Dropped foot is a level 10 award alone. £27,000 and attracts a 25% GIP.

You need specific evidence of the injury and it’s limitation and that it was as a result of service.

Look at the tariff, pick the one that most reflects your injuries then go to your consultant, explain the situation, show him the tariff and ask him to write a letter to best reflect it.

If you really want to cover your bases ask him to recommend someone for an independent second opinion.

Other than that speak to one of the charities and keep bothering them until they help.

Good luck.

The Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation Scheme) Order 2011
 
#3
Thank you dingerr,

I will do this ASAP.

I am just infuriated by the lack of research that the AFCS has done in reference to my medical files as it is all documented in both my military and civvie docs. (Which I forwarded to the AFCS over 1 year ago).
 
#4
It’s not for them to research, it’s for you to provide evidence. This may seem a little harsh, but it’s also fair.

Lose an arm or a leg, it’s easy to ascertain the injury, but when you’re talking about degrees of limitation it cannot always be evident from your med docs which will detail an injury, but not necessarily the limitation.

Your social worker at Headley should have helped you with your AFCS claim.
 
#5
mrwatto
My situation is very similar, I've had a laminectomy, discectomy, interbody fusion etc. Originally I wasn't awarded anything and ended up at a Tribunal, which I won.

I was put on an interim award and ended with a Tarriff 9 (table 9 item 2A). I wasn't happy with that as it didn' reflect my condition I elected for a second Tribunal.

Whilst waiting for the Tribunal and now 5 years after surgery the hospital finally tell me I have non-union/Pseudoarthrosis (failed fusion) and epidural fibrosis (scar tissue in the spinal canal affecting the nerve roots). The Tribunal was put on hold whilst a had a Spinal Cord Stimulator fitted 4 weeks ago. There is a section under Neurological conditions that I'm perusing.
Sorry for the long post but hope it helps you in someway, if you think I can help then drop me a message.
 
#6
ScrumV,

I feel your pain, especially with the time frame involved between point of injury to being awarded any sort of compensation (justice).

The medical evidence that I have provided to the AFCS over the past 5 years is substantial, and in a way I'm looking forward to my tribunal so that I can destroy them.

Within just my Army medical records there is solid evidence that supports a Tier 7 award, that i personally sent to the AFCS by both email and post. This is also re-enforced within my FMED 23 and civilian records:

Table 6-Neurological disorders, including spinal, head or brain injuries(*)
Item 21

'Traumatic spinal injury resulting in partial paresis of lower or upper limbs, or both, with substantial recovery, restoration of lower and upper limb motor and sensory function, including a useful ability to walk.'

Not to mention my drop foot, which I assume is a separate award.

Their incompetence has reached a whole new level as in their recent letter they state that my back injury was from 'lifting weights', that I have no evidence of permanent functional limitations or restrictions, (I must point out that that don't acknowledge my L4/5 spinal fusion, although this wording is mentioned in my FMED 23), and that because I conduct my rehabilitation programme at the gym most days, that I am an active man!

This is of course, after I highlighted the problems within the AFCS with my local MP, who then raised the issue at Parliamentary level. To my amazement the AFCS even got the facts wrong to the Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence. Therefore, when your dealing with this level of incompetence, I am not surprised by anything anymore.

I have applied for all my recent civilian medical records that will take approx 10-12 weeks and am currently seeking 2 independent consultants to conduct an assessment of my condition. This way, along with the rest of the substantial medical evidence I have the best chance of getting the award that reflects my injury.

However, there is still part of my that thinks that I should just give up as the AFCS incompetence is beyond comprehension.
 
#7
Traumatic spinal injury
I looked at this, you might have trouble with traumatic.

I’m not against you, I’m playing devils advocate. If you can imagine every and any angle they will play you have more chance of countering against it.
 
#8
ScrumV,

However, there is still part of my that thinks that I should just give up as the AFCS incompetence is beyond comprehension.
Don't give up! You are right, the levels of incompetence from the AFCS sometimes appear to be deliberate. As they start from a default position of NO and delay and obfuscate in the hope, I believe, that people will just give up and go away or accept an award which is way below their entitlement due to weariness and the offer of some money.

Keep going, make sure you have all of the information you need organised and presented clearly, No one knows the circumstances better than you and if you think you can represent yourself objectively without getting emotional or personal then do so. The RBL have trained personnel who will happily represent you and can help tremendously with the appeals procedure but they are busy and don't necessarily understand your particular circumstances.

I'm not sure that a solicitor is worthwhile. There are negligence experts but that's not the same as AFCS claims. There's no such thing as no win, no fee, in this arena so you will be paying for someone who may know nothing.
 
#9
Yes my case has been going on for 6 years and for the first 3 years it drove me mad as I let it consume everything, since then I've just forgot about it and only dealing with it when necessary.
The Tarriff in table 6 you mention is what I'm aiming for, I currently receive an award for "trauma" so just a case of proving the Paresis (weakness) and motor and sensory loss, which strangely enough is in the last 3 reports I've sent them.

Dinger is right they may well expect you to prove trauma, that said they still have to give you a Tarriff appropriate to your condition regardless of the cause. Off the top of my head the only option in Table 9 for "permanent severe funcional limitation" is item 2A (level 9 30%) if you was to receive a separate award for food drop (level 10 30%) you would be awarded only one GIP at 50% opening up AFIP etc.
I'm no expert and as mentioned the RBL have experts to guide with the best level to aim for.
 
#12
You are aware that is the same lot he's fighting against :eek:
Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.
 
#13
Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.
Having been through the process, appeals included, I'm one of those who understand the process as far as you can whilst the MoD refuse to publish their administration guidance as they once did.

Hence I call your post a total load of spheroids, I wouldn't trust them if they told me the sky was blue.
 
#14
Yup. But rather than trying to second guess the review process, sit down with the forward case worker and they will assist you to collate your evidence. You don't have to follow all their advise BUT you will get an advocate who will assist you to the best of their ability. They understand the process YOU understand your current medical state.
There may also be an issue getting a case worker, support is limited especially if you have been out of the forces for a number of years.
 
#15
There may also be an issue getting a case worker, support is limited especially if you have been out of the forces for a number of years.
I don't know if @conjurer might be referring to Veterans U.K. welfare but my experience is that Veterans U.K. AFCS can help with advice on the procedures at times but not your evidence, at the end of the day they are the opposition, not the support.
 
#16
Tribunal moving forward. (The response).

Ok, Yesterday I received my 'response' from the AFCS. To the best of my knowledge I will get a tribunal date within 4 months, with 14 days notice and at a regional location.

The response is all the evidence that the AFCS have used to justify their decision, and in my case is over 400 pages. This includes army medical records, most of the AFCS correspondence as well as letters from surgeons, physio's, doctors etc. However, this is very subjective at best, and often contradicts PAP 10 and AFCS legislation.

It would appear that the Senior Medical Assessor SMA ( a doctor in my case) makes a final decision based on a selective words from your most recent appointment. I'm my case, my neurosurgeon has stated that, 'I am fit and active' in a letter of recommendation for my next operation! As I am hopefully going to be considered for a spinal cord stimulator I meet all the requirements due to this.

FIT being healthy and ACTIVE-going to the gym to do my rehab most days. However, the SMA considers this wording to interpret a completely different conclusion - apparently I am fit and well and it is a mystery to why I am seeing a neurosurgeon to being with. This contradicts other correspondence were I am commended to my continued commitment to my personal rehabilitation, as well as the AFCS recommendations on how to manage chronic back pain within the response.

Having cross referenced the 'response' with my own army medical documents and my own correspondence files, I found certain emails and letters missing. In particular the letter where I highlight that as a Tier 2 discharge I should be on a tariff level between 7-11, and the letter I sent them highlighting all my medical verified neurological signs from within my army medical records. This medical evidence was available when I was medically discharged in 2015 and raises many questions.

Apart from being fit and active, the SMA's final decision was supported by the fact that I have no permanent functional limitations or restrictions. This contradicts my FMED 23, my spinal fusion, and my medically verified symptoms. I have evidence to support my nerve root damage that causes my problems in my legs. Yet, contrary to medical science the SMA has decided that this is not permanent. This is where the SMA's have a degree of subjectivity. I would like to know if they are bonus driven to not 'payout' in the same way as most civilian insurance companies are.

I have now requested my civilian medical documents to provide further evidence. This tends to take 8-10 weeks but my GP's receptionist have said that they will do the electronic files within 2 weeks. A formal letter requesting this and £10 is required.

Yet again the incompetence of the SMA and the AFCS in general does not surprise me. I am confident that I will get the award that reflects my condition at the tribunal and will continue to update this thread.

I honestly believe that this system is broken, that the AFCS purposely delay applications as long as possible to test the resilience of the applicant. I can only imagine how many veterans, especially those with mental health issues have just given up.

Once my tribunal is resolved, whatever the outcome I will campaign for change within the AFCS process as currently it is not working for veterans.
 
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#17
Regarding the missing correspondence, write to them soonest informing them of it and supply them with a copy. It should be added to the response. Ensure you ask that your representative is given a copy by veterans uk.

You could always ask (pay for) your consultant neurosurgeon to write a letter explaing exactly what he/she means by £fit and well" so the SMA at veterans uk doesn't missinterpret it :rolleyes:.
 

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